DCSD and CDE reach agreement, collaborate on improvements to seat time regulations
DENVER - Highly productive discussions between the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and the Douglas County School District have resulted in both an agreement regarding a dispute over some of District students’ seat time calculations, as well as improvements in the guidance that will help other districts avoid similar issues in the future.
As you may remember, last year CDE sought to pull back $4.2 million because they felt that some of our full-time students did not meet the State’s requirements to receive full-time funding in both fiscal years 2012-13 as well as 2013-14.
The audit conducted by CDE reported that 1,335 DCSD students did not meet the state’s seat time requirements, necessary to be considered full-time during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years. While 1,250* (94 percent) of the students (now graduates) in question were scheduled and attended school full-time, CDE objected to the adequacy of the District’s documentation. This is no way affects diplomas earned by DCSD graduates.
*DCSD did not dispute the remainder of the students (115) captured in the audit that were far under the required time, nor did it dispute a finding regarding DCSD’s transportation reimbursement claim, which was overstated.
Over the past several months, District leadership has met with new Colorado Commissioner of Education Richard Crandall, presenting him with information from the affected schools and answering his questions.
Using his statutory authority to exercise discretion over audit findings, CDE Commissioner Rich Crandall has reduced the amount DCSD will pay back to the state from $4.2 million (plus $342,882 for the transportation route mile audit) to $2.03 million.
“I would like to thank Commissioner Crandall for his thoughtful consideration of our position and the facts in the case. Instead of only looking at the regulations and the findings of the audit, Commissioner Crandall worked with us over the past several months to gain an understanding of the situation and our good faith efforts to meet the state’s regulations,” said DCSD Assistant Superintendent, Secondary Education Superintendent Dr. Steven Cook.
DCSD budgets contingency funds every year allowing the District to cover unexpected expenditures – like this student enrollment refund – without impacting schools or its mission of educating students. The Board of Education approved the expenditure, during its April 19 public meeting.
It is not a fine or a fee -- it is only a refund. It was part of the regular student count audit and transportation route mile audit of Colorado school districts go through every year.
Additionally, Commissioner Crandall and his team have worked closely with DCSD staff to provide and communicate additional clarity regarding the student-time requirements and expectations. Based on this guidance, DCSD schools have already adopted new practices to avoid student count issues in the future.